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I recently heard someone use the expression "Now that's a whole different bag of dog food". While highly unusualy, the meaning was well understood by the audience. I know there is an actual idiom/expression used more normally than this one, but I cannot recall what it is.

"Horse of a different color" comes to mind, but I don't think that's it. Is there another equivalent expression in common use? I'd prefer one centered around the words "whole different/whole new", since I believe this expression was a play one such a phrase.

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"A whole other can of worms"? –  Peter Shor Oct 20 '11 at 21:26
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@PeterShor, that should be spelled: A whole 'nother can of worms :) –  JeffSahol Oct 20 '11 at 21:33
    
@Jeff: See “A whole nother” way of looking at things –  Daniel Oct 21 '11 at 0:18
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3 Answers

That's a whole different kettle of fish.

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I don't think "whole other can or worms" or its variants is really synonymous. "Horse of a different color" means "categorically different", "can of worms" contains the meaning of "unleashing a large number of unanticipated problems.".

A synonymous phrases would be "cut from a different cloth", or "apples and oranges", though you'd have to shape them appropriately to you specific needs. If you need to go folksy, you could try "thems be apples and oranges, so they be."

As far as dog food? Google doesn't know what you are talking about: http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=whole+different+bag+of+dog+food%2C+horse+of+a+different+color&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

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I think you're mixing your metaphors with 'whole other can of worms'. –  Sam Oct 20 '11 at 23:31
    
@Sam I think he is right about this, though, that "different bag of dog food" at least follows the same pattern as "different can of worms"...one that "horse of a different color" does not follow. Otherwise, I have no idea what "different bag of dog food" is supposed to mean. –  JeffSahol Oct 20 '11 at 23:58
    
It was something someone made up on the spot. I think what I'm thinking is closest to "cut from a different cloth" or "horse of a different color", but I thought there was a better-fitting expression –  Jim Oct 21 '11 at 0:48
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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I've figured it out. The expression I was looking for was "a whole new ball game".

I wonder - is this a uniquely American expression?

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